St. Louis, United States
VIJAY SHAH via FRANCES MULRANEY/Daily Mail
A team of American university scientists have announced a medical breakthrough in the fight against diabetes, claiming to have cured the condition in laboratory mice, according to a report yesterday in the British newspaper, the Daily Mail.
Researchers in genetics at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri state used converted human stem cells in mice, and were able to functionally prevent them from acquiring diabetes from nine months to a year, meaning it may be possible to prevent humans from developing the illness, at least temporarily.
The converted cells allowed the mice to rapidly produce enough insulin to break down high blood sugar causing diabetes. Tests saw their sugar levels return to a normal, safe level in as little as two weeks. Diabetes affects 400 million people globally, and needs to managed through daily injections of the insulin hormone or dietary protocols.
The scientists took live stem cells, the ‘beginner’ cells found in humans that can change into anything from bone to muscle tissue, and primed them to change into insulin production cells. They then converted other stem cells into beta pancreatic cells which also produce insulin to break down blood sugar.
The successful trial was formally announced on 24th of February and was published in the academic journal Nature Biotechnology. Assistant professor of medicine and biomedical engineering, Dr Jeffrey R. Millman said: “These mice had very severe diabetes with blood sugar readings of more than 500 milligrams per deciliter of blood — levels that could be fatal for a person — and when we gave the mice the insulin-secreting cells, within two weeks their blood glucose levels had returned to normal and stayed that way for many months,…”
The announcement followed several years of painstaking trial-and-error, mainly caused by stem cells changing to other kinds of cells, such as those found in the liver, rather than the pancreatic cells the researchers were aiming to produce. While the discovery at Washington University is a huge breakthrough, it will still take some time before the treatment with stem cells translates to a viable cure for human diabetes, the Daily Mail said.
The next step in the research will include tests on larger animals and for longer periods of time. The process would also need to be automated if there was any hope of the treatment acting as an alternative to the insulin injections many diabetic patients currently rely on.
“St Louis scientists cure diabetes in mice in just two weeks using converted human cells to produce insulin, giving hope to 400 million people” – Frances Mulraney, Daily Mail/Mail Online/dailymail.com/Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group/Associated Newspapers Ltd (29 February 2020) https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8059723/St-Louis-scientists-cure-diabetes-mice-just-two-weeks-using-converted-human-cells.html